Objective: To gain a better understanding of the experience of living with tibiofemoral osteoarthritis (OA) as young and middle-aged adults.
Methods: Heuristic qualitative research methods were used. Four informants between the ages of 25 and 45 years diagnosed with tibiofemoral OA were purposively sampled. Informants were white, college educated, middle class, and physically active. Informants were interviewed for 4 hours. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed according to a van Kaam method modified by Moustakas.
Results: Living with tibiofemoral OA involved pain, fear, isolation, helplessness, and loss of function, identity, and perceived control. The informants struggled with adapting to their pathology. Behavior change and activity modification were difficult and seemed to be related to the physical, sociologic, and psychologic aspects of pathology.
Conclusions: A biopsychosocial model of chronic pathology was developed that may guide health professionals in treating and developing interventions for younger adults with arthritis.